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Skills for life and work

Last Updated : 12 March 2020, 08:38 IST
Last Updated : 12 March 2020, 08:38 IST

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Interpersonal and life skills that you acquire will make a whole lot of difference to your career. In simple terms, life skills are the ability to adapt to one’s environment to survive and thrive. Animals do it all the time. Chameleons change colour based on their surroundings so that they blend in and are not easily seen by their prey. Puppies learn from an early age what is acceptable behaviour and what is not.

To a professional, life skills could include being able to work well with others, achieving your goal despite severe obstacles, dealing with conflict and resolving it, building a network of those who believe in you etc. Life skills are as important as professional qualifications. Your technical prowess is facilitated by the connections you make, the attitude that helps you beat the odds and emerge victorious and so on.

Top four skills

Different phases in life require different life skills, though you will probably need most of them throughout your life. Here are the top four life skills that young professionals need.

Perseverance: There’s a common refrain today that says ‘you need to find your passion. Once you do that it won’t feel like work.’ While that’s one perspective, you will face situations where you won’t feel like getting up and getting into work; where passion alone won’t be enough and you will still have to push through by sheer force of will. Not everything in life comes easy and, at times, only your perseverance will help you achieve your goals. Keep thinking of goals and the feeling will pass.

Mindset: The world is getting smaller. The internet provides a level-playing field to professionals across the globe. So, what makes you different from someone equally qualified and experienced? Excellence. An ‘excellence mindset’ is going the whole hog, doing something to your very best ability.

Listening: While empathy is most often associated with leadership qualities, we can all choose to be a little more empathetic even today. Living and working with others — whether your family, roommates, colleagues, boss — requires empathy. That’s what makes us human. Success is rarely attained by personal effort. It often takes a whole lot of people. A key aspect of empathy is the ability to listen to others. To hear what they’re saying. People connect with those who see and hear them. According to poet Alice Duer Miller, “Listening means taking a vigorous, human interest in what is being told us”.

Accepting criticism: When you begin your career, it is very likely that there will be situations where you do something wrong and that you will be pulled up for it. Rather than looking at these situations as the worst moments in your life, consider them to be your biggest lessons. The only way to deal with criticism is not to take it personally.

Criticism is not a reflection on who you are, rather it is about what you’ve done. Learn to accept criticism gracefully, to learn from it and emerge as a stronger, more seasoned professional. One easy way of accepting criticism gracefully and positively is by saying “Thank you for sharing this observation, I will definitely review this.”

These are just a few life skills that will bring a world of difference to your career. There are many more. A famous Socrates saying goes like this, “To move the world, we must first move.” Life skills are essential components of your professional career. Learn to use those muscles and watch your career soar.

(The author is a leadership and life coach)

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Published 12 March 2020, 08:23 IST

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